Craft designers design and make three dimensional items such as jewellery, pottery, ceramics, ornaments, tableware, furniture and glassware. They may design an item to be made in a factory, or as a 'one-off', made in a small workshop for a particular client. They normally specialise in one craft.
You could be:
planning a design
drawing designs by hand or on a computer
working out what styles or designs would sell best
deciding how to make the item and what the costs would be
changing a design to fit your budget or to meet your client's wishes
making a model to test the design and then solving any problems
making sure the finished item looks attractive and works well
selling items at craft fairs, galleries or through a shop.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual salaries may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job
the type of craft work you are doing.
Starting salaries for craft designers in the UK can be in the range £15,000 to £22,000 a year. Experienced designers can earn more. Many craft designers are self-employed or work freelance. They charge a fee, which varies depending on the item designed or made, and on their reputation. The better known they are, the more they can charge. Some sell their wares mainly at seasonal fairs which means that income is irregular.
you would work in a design studio or office with other designers
you might spend some time in the factory with production staff
you may need to travel to meet clients
you would probably work regular hours.
In a small craft workshop:
you might work alone and meet the public only when you sell your work
it might be dusty and you may need protective clothing or safety goggles
some work could mean kneeling, sitting or standing for a long time
you might work indoors or outdoors (for example selling your work at a stall)
you might have to work long hours, including evenings and weekends, to meet deadlines.
There are no formal entry requirements but most people take a full time course first.
You could take an NC, NQ, HNC, HND or a degree.
Your course could be in art and design, craft and design, product design or a particular craft such as jewellery, furniture or glass design. Some courses have options in several crafts, so you should read the course content carefully.
You do not always need qualifications to get into an NC or NQ, although some courses may require up to 4-5 subjects at National 4 or 5. For an HNC or HND you need 1-2 Highers or an NC or NQ, and for a degree, usually 4 Highers including English and Art and Design or, in some cases, a science or technological subject.
You normally need a portfolio of artwork for entry to college or university.
If you are very talented and have an extremely good portfolio, you might get into an HNC, HND or degree course with less than the normal minimum academic requirements.
You may be able to get a job as a trainee. Some employers may prefer you to have some subjects at National 4 or 5, or Highers, particularly in English and Art and Design. Relevant practical experience or evidence of artistic or practical ability is also useful.
For art school courses you need to apply through UCAS.
What Does it Take?
You need to be:
artistic and creative, with an eye for design, colour and detail
good with your hands
knowledgeable about your chosen material: metal, wood, clay, glass or gems
able to work under pressure to meet deadlines
confident and able to sell designs and products
good at negotiating with suppliers and buyers
able to accept criticism of your work
business aware, if self-employed.
If you enter a trainee post without first taking a relevant qualification, you would train on the job and attend college part time for a relevant qualification such as an SVQ or an HNC.
You would continue to develop your skills and experience through on the job training and attendance at courses and conferences.
If you work in manufacturing, you would probably start as a design assistant, and move on to become a designer or senior designer.
There are fewer opportunities for promotion if you work in a small craft workshop.
You could become self-employed, designing for manufacturers on a freelance basis, or making and selling the items you design.
You may also do other jobs such as teaching or running a craft shop, to supplement your income.
Many small-scale craft designers choose to live and work in rural areas.
Young Scot and Creative Scotland operate the 'Nurturing Talent - Time to Shine Fund', which aims to support young people aged 11-25 and interested in developing creative or artistic skills. Both individuals and groups can apply for funding up to £1,000. For more information see the Young Scot website.